Why men’s hero work doesn’t measure up
HERE'S a quick multiple choice quiz for the guys at home.
When's the last time you cleaned the fridge? Or the toilet? Or the oven or microwave?
(Choose the answer that most closely resembles you):
A. Last week because you take turns with your partner doing those things.
B. Yesterday because you noticed it needed cleaning.
C. Last year because your partner was sick and asked you to do it.
D. What do you mean? Aren't they self-cleaning.
E. Never, because you're lucky enough to have a cleaner.
F. Never, because you're lucky enough to have a wife.
G. Never, because I work outside the home and mow the lawn.
H. Never, because my wife's better at it.
I don't think we need to psychoanalyse each answer to reveal what kinda guy you are. And besides, there are many more nuanced excuses out there given the creativity that can be summonsed to avoid doing those annoying, low-rent domestic duties.
So why it that women are always up to their arm in household s*** and men aren't unless they are plumbers and being paid $120 an hour to do so?
Good question Lesley, I hear the women of Australia thinking and nodding as they remember all the times they performed archaeological digs in the refrigerator to extract fossilised vegetation or chiselled through the patina of the last eight bowls of reheated spaghetti bog from the ceiling of the microwave.
Well I can tell you why. Because there's no hero moment in it.
It's thankless, invisible work but god dammit it's crucial to a happy, healthy existence. So who's the real hero here?
Women still to do the lioness' share of the mundane around the house. The stuff deemed insignificant by the patriarchal overlords like laundry and wiping random spillages in the most unlikely of places (and they're all unlikely places to males).
So what man in his right mind is going to invest his energy and engage in that level of work without being asked to when there's a bunch of hero chores to be done.
Mowing the lawn, cooking the barbecue, taking the bin out and leaving the house behind to perform paid work elsewhere. All very public displays.
One of the main ways of getting out of doing the really, boring domestic stuff is to not to raise your children. Yes, we know there are hands-on dads (whatever that means) out there but in grand scheme of bum and nose wiping ya got nothin' mate.
Men get to leave the house a lot because they choose to, in fact it's encouraged. It's the norm. If they don't do it because their female partner does, they're weirdos, wimps or suckers.
If the female wants to maintain some semblance of a career while also being a parent, they are made to feel extremely guilty for doing so.
Of course, having a successful career, an independent finance stream and owning your assets isn't a very female trait if you ask a male, but what is very female is raising the next generation of human beings to be exemplary people who will be in charge of the world.
The latter is how it should be described but the more common term is the patriarchal undersell of 'raising the kids'. Like they're chickens you chuck food at and leave in a cage (dream on, mums).
I know a lot of women, particularly older women, who raised the kids. Cooked and cleaned and nursed and counselled and raised the kids. The 'provider' went out and worked, spent time with other adults and their mates, drank beer at the pub at the end of a hard day, ran around town being a champion of the community, while the wife stayed at home and 'watched' the kids, preparing for his nightly homecoming so could relax after his very hard day. He would be served a hot meal, then he would retire to the loungeroom to watch the TV while his wife cleaned up. Then when he got tired he'd retreat to bed. He'd earned it after all.
It may not be as clearly defined as that anymore but it's the foundation on which today's hangover still exists.
While men get involved in parenting and domestic chores, it's not at the same level as women are expected to.
To these working men, parenting is down to having one or two big conversations with the kids a week. And playing a bit of ball here and there.
But that's an illusion instilled by the patriarchy so they can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Real parenting is the minutia. It's the dialogue the kids hear over many, many years. It's the one-on-one care, the picking of the nits out of the hair, the sorting the latest uniforms so they're not embarrassed at school, the guidance through the social media dramas, the navigation of hormones, the instilling of self-respect and that of others, the encouraging of creativity, the rewarding and the disciplining, explaining loss, providing on-call support around the clock over years and years. If men are doing this too then I'll stop barking at that tree.
Raising kids isn't the flashy I'm taking my family on an Instagram holiday stuff. It's the boring support that goes unnoticed by society. The same society that still worships male contributions and reduces female's. Oh, isn't he wonderful pushing the pram!
If men were really champions of raising their kids, professional child support would be in every office, every worksite, everywhere there's employment.
So I'll raise your putting the bin out (a three-minute task at best), your barbecuing skills (once a weekend during summer as opposed to every night) and your cathartic lawn mowing once a fortnight to get you down on all fours and scrub your family's DNA off the bathroom tiles.
If all jobs were created equal there would be a lot more swapping of tasks going on, correct?
Women don't aspire to see their tired reflections staring back at them in the newly gleaming surfaces they know will be destroyed with a set of grubby hands the minute they turn their backs.
They have dreams you probably know nothing about because they're constantly shattered with chants of the what's for dinner or where's my hockey stick? Many women say this is all they want in life but again, patriarchal programming plays a role in that level of brainwashing.
So back to that quiz about domestic duties. Yeah, nah. Nothing special to see here. Move along. I've got a bin to put out people!